Imagine creating art so permeable and profound it translates to a medium that won’t exist for more than a century after you create it.
Though he did not know it at the time, that’s what Vincent Van Gogh did when he painted his body of work, mostly between 1880 and 1890. Broke, unappreciated and both mentally and physically ill, Van Gogh set a standard for Post-Impressionistic painting with his bright, textured pieces including The Starry Night.
While he may have struggled to find an audience for his artwork during his short life, he found almost immediate posthumous acclaim and recently inspired a wildly popular touring show that draws thousands of people around the world.
I caught an immersive Van Gogh experience last week, and it reminded me, once again, of art’s enternal impact on the human soul. As I sat on the floor of the Lighthouse Artspace in Scottsdale, Arizona and watched some of Van Gogh’s most famous artwork fill the walls and floors around me, I thought about how daunting it must be to represent and replicate an icon’s work.
The presentation also really inspired me and made me want to go to every grade school art, band, choir, theatre and orchestra class and tell the children there to allow themselves to experience the joy of expression now, and to develop their art because its impact will go far beyond their classroom walls.
So, to every painter, photographer, writer, lyricist, musician, commedian, poet, little girl singing “Frozen” in a Ukrainian subway tunnel, I say, carry on! We need art today, and your efforts will have a lasting impact on this old world.
And, to Vincent Van Gogh, painter of 900 pieces, writer of 2,000 letters and slicer of one famous ear, I would like to say, “Your work mattered when you created it and it matters today. Thank you for the beauty, the historical relevance and the honesty of your art.”
I think Don McLean almost got it right when he wrote “Vincent”. But I believe the world was exactly meant for someone as beautiful as Van Gogh.
If you’re a struggling artist and you ever pause, even for a moment, to question whether your efforts matter, consider that Van Gogh had the same insecurities and, 140 years later, his work is still impacting us all.
Paint! Write! Draw! Sing! Play on!
We will all be grateful for your efforts, now and forever.